A Tribute to Winton School

 

Blewett Pass | Lake Wenatchee | Peshastin | Plain | Stevens Pass | Winton


If anyone has any photos or information between 1900 and 1960 I would love to be able to use the information on this site. I was told by a student from long ago that he had some memory of kids saying there was a schoolhouse at Merritt and it consolidated with Winton in the very early years but couldn't be certain. If anyone has information, please let me know.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A PHOTO JOURNAL OF WINTON SCHOOL

THE LAST ONE-ROOM SchoolHOUSE in washington state

Hover curser over photo to pause carousel.
 
PHOTO 1 - With hollyhocks growing to the left of the stairs, was taken in 1982 or 83 before I had started redoing the flower beds, and before the school exterior was repainted.
PHOTO 2 - This one was taken around 1990
PHOTO 3 - This photo is of the teacherage. The front half of the building was the only structure up until 1979 or 1980, when Lyman Boyd and a couple guys working with him were hired to build the addition. Even so, after the addition of the bedroom, the square footage of the cabin was only about 350 ft.² – – very tiny!

Photo Credits & Descriptions: Connie Schwarzkopf Nichols

 



The students in this clip were from 1986 to 1990
(The quality of this video is only because of it's age)
 

Winton Teachers & Staff

As we learn about names and dates for this section going way back to the school's beginning, we will happily update it. Any imput is greatly appreciated as information is getting harder and harder to obtain.

 

1974-1981

Rebecca Corey - Grades 1-8

During Rebecca's 7 year employment she took a one-year leave of absence to go teach in England and during that time her replacement was the late Gayle Dixon.

 

1981-1996

Connie Schwarzkopf Nichols - Grades 1-7
In October 1981 the school district agreed to hire one of the local women who was a parent of a previous student, Barb Darlington. She worked a couple hours a day, a couple days a week. Prior to this Connie had no help at all.

 

1982 - 1992
Susan Johnson - Paraprofessional

Beginning in September 1982, local resident and parent Susan Johnson was hired to be Connie's paraprofessional, for 4 hours a day. She was finally put on full time beginning in the 1984-1985 school year. She worked for Connie for 10 years, moved to Alaska,


1992

Becky Fishburn

Susan Johnson's immediate successor was Becky Fishburn, who was the paraprofessional in charge of the reading program.

 

1983
Lauri Jones - Paraprofessional

Lauri Jones was hired in 1983 as a paraprofessional specifically charged with special education, as a young man with Down's Syndrome started school back here and needed a lot of specialized assistance.  Becky Fishburn resigned the following year because of family demands, and Lauri Jones assumed 100% of the responsibilities of the general paraprofessional position as well as continuing on as the individual aid for Alex.

 

Aug 1996 thru Dec 1996

Shannon Holscher


1996-1997          

Kathy Sheehan

 


In The Beginning…  (Just 16 miles west of Leavenworth)

 

Winton, Washington was established in 1892 as a camp for the Great Northern Railroad, complete with a train depot and worker housing.

 

By 1900 the village was large enough to merit the building of a schoolhouse. The original school house burnt down between 1921-1925, but was rebuilt in a similar fashion. In time, the Winton mill also opened, providing well over 100 jobs to local residents.

 

At the beginning, the property for the school was given to the school district by the Dillon family, the primary and first homesteaders in the Valley. One of the Dillon daughters was a teacher at Winton for many years although the exact years she was there have not been confirmed. Winton school was its own school district (#8) up until the 50s – – an era when the first big wave of school consolidation began in the state (as well as nationwide).

 

The challenges of a “One-Room Schoolhouse” operating within a large school district.

 

The challenges of operating the Winton School were real. There was always talk of closing Winton and sending the students from the Winton, Merritt, Stevens Pass, and the Lake Wenatchee area to Leavenworth. However, the people in those three areas were always strongly against this option because they absolutely did not want their children riding the school bus to town every day up and down Tumwater Canyon, especially in the wintertime. (The Chelan school bus accident from 1945 where the bus plunged into Lake Chelan was still very fresh in the minds of everyone) The local residents, knowing the dangers of the Highway 2 driving into Leavenworth due to ice and rock, snow, and mudslides, did not want any part of it.

 

Additionally, forcing the kids, the youngest kids especially, from the far corners of the County to take the bus the back way down the Chumstick (which has steep switchbacks of its own), was another reason that they fought for leaving Winton open. For the kids living in the Winton school service area, traveling that route would have required them to be on the bus for a total of 3-4 hours daily. (The bus schedule turned out to be tough on the high school kids too)

 

The decision to leave the school open as a “remote and necessary” school was reached only after a somewhat unpleasant turn of events which culminated in a court case, wherein the court made the decision to leave the school open to serve grades 1-8 from the geographical area of Stevens Pass, Merritt, and Lake Wenatchee. (Plain, Chiwawa Loop, Ponderosa, and River Road were NOT included in the decision because they were much closer to Leavenworth already and children from there would not have to be on the bus as long as traveling back way.) The school carried on after that for many years with grades 1-8, and an enrollment that varied between 10-18 students.

 

The designation of “remote and necessary” came equipped with extra funding from the State of Washington, three times the amount of money per student that regular school districts received from the State. This meant that Leavenworth School District (and later on what became Cascade School District) had always benefited financially to a great degree from Winton school. It also should have meant that repairs, improvements and supplies for Winton should not have been an issue, but often that was not the case.

 

Connie Schwarzkopf Nichols was hired 1981, it was still Leavenworth School District, as they had not yet consolidated with Peshastin-Dryden School District. The enrollment had been climbing a lot, and the Leavenworth School District was trying to cut back on the number of grade levels taught at Winton. Winton really did not have the space, to begin with, and they were also reconfiguring grade levels at the various schools in town.


Connie’s first year was 1981-1982, and she had grades 1-7. Two of the seventh-grade girls had opted to stay one more year just to see what the “new teacher” was all about :-), but that was the last year that Winton had seven grades. Connie started out with 27 kids in seven grades and her first-grade class consisted of 8 kids, so it was crowded and challenging. The School District hired one of the mothers to help Connie for a couple hours a week but otherwise it was a Connie as Principal, Secretary, Custodian and Teacher all in one.

 

1982-83, 1983-84 saw Winton with an enrollment of grades 1-5 only, and from that time onward up until the school closed, they only had grades 1-4, and that was strictly because of the huge demand for enrollment in the school. Winton was forced to limit the enrollment to 20 students (although sometimes were able to stretch to 21) and enrollment was based on a prioritized list. ONLY if there were spaces available were kids from the Plain, Chiwawa, Ponderosa areas allowed in. The first priority slots were available only for children from the Lake Wenatchee, Winton, and Merritt areas.

 

The highest priority slots were given to the youngest children from those areas. Winton always had a waiting list because people wanted their children to go to Winton knowing that they would receive an excellent education that was second to none.

 

Keeping the School Doors Open

 

By the late seventies and early eighties, it was obvious that their beloved Winton Schoolhouse had been suffering from a great deal of neglect over many years – ever since it was forced to consolidate with Leavenworth. The resident teacher was expected to do absolutely everything, and for things that the teacher was not able to do local volunteers picked up the slack.

 

Orville Richards (the neighbor down the road across from the mill site) volunteered countless hours to the beloved schoolhouse he cared so deeply for. He had been a longtime Winton school board member and after the consolidation he only served another year or two during the transition and then resigned.

At this time, the school was burdened with out of date textbooks, no library, the building was shabby inside and outside, as was the teacher’ s quarters, and it was in serious need of TLC and a few extra dollars.

 

Starting in the spring of 1982, a very active group of parents decided that they were not going to wait any longer for district funding to come through. Starting with the school year of 1982-1983, the initative taken by the parents started paying off. Even though the parent group ended up doing a great deal of work themselves the School District did finally come through with funding.

 

Over the next few years the following improvements were made – –

 

(1) The very old and temperamental oil furnace in the basement was replaced with a (used, but dependable) forced air electric furnace, and Bruce Disher constructed new ductwork to render the new system more efficient.

 

(2) The parent’s continued efforts and involvement produced a wonderful log toy for the playground

 

(3) The combined efforts of Orville Richards, the parents, Connie Schwarzkopf Nichols, and Vaagen Brothers (the Winton mill) and a couple of their employees along with donations from Marson and Marson Lumber in Leavenworth were responsible for the construction of the covered play shed.

 

(4) The skills of Bruce Disher again proved of value when he replaced the rotting and tiny front porch of the teacherage with a nice covered deck, new steps, and a concrete pad leading up to the steps.

 

(5) Bruce Disher also undertook to remodel one third of the “garage” at the teacher’s residence, plumbing, wiring, and insulating it so it was a usable space for a laundry room, freezer, heat, and storage.

 

(6) The school district finally agreed to start buying some necessary equipment for the school, as up until that time the teacher had been using her own lawnmower, a Weed Wacker and a chainsaw, along with many other of the teacher's personally owned tools to maintain the outside

 

(7) The school district also decided to have the exterior of both buildings professionally stripped and painted, replacing the old chipped and faded paint that existed up until that time.

 

(8) They district also agreed to paint the interior and also replace the old worn carpet. Prior to this painting, the last painting it had was done by the teacher in 1983.

 

(9) Once again, Bruce Disher came to the rescue by supplying Winton with a couple of credenzas from the surplus items in storage resulting from the closing of Peshastin-Dryden schools for consolidation. That gave Winton some much needed storage in the classroom. He also dredged up a goodly number of used bookshelves so that Winton was able to start its own library collection. He also built a lovely reading loft in a former large closet, and the reading loft and surrounding bookshelves became the “School Library”.

 

The End of a 100 Year Era

 

The Thomson family from Chiwawa eventually purchased the entire Dillon property. Claude Thomson wanted very much to take over 100% of the property and this included the land the teacher’s residence was situated on.

 

During that same time period, the State of Washington demanded that the school include a kindergarten class. The building was absolutely not big enough or set up correctly to take on kindergarten. The school district tried to purchase some adjoining property from the landowner, Claude Thomson, who at that time owned everything around the school, but he was unwilling to sell any portion of his land, so the possibility of adding on to the existing building or adding a separate building was not an option.

 

That is when the school district started working with the Chelan County PUD to acquire a piece of property in Plain on which to build a new school – – a 2 room school, so that kindergarten would be made available.

 

The school district eventually purchased the property in Plain. Then the teacher’s cabin, the empty basement foundation, and the small school yard was deeded over to Claude Thomson.

 

The Winton school closed its doors for good in 2000, after 100 years of operation. Then they moved the Winton schoolhouse next door to the Beaver Valley School, near Plain, WA. (pictured below)

 

In 2009 the building underwent a restoration thanks to volunteers.   CLICK HERE

 

Now when you are online, Winton is actually listed on a few Ghost Town websites.

 

If you would like to see for yourself where the historic Winton Schoolhouse once thrived with the laughter of children, as you drive along Highway 2, when you come to the Lake Wenatchee intersection known as Coles Corner (16 miles west of Leavenworth), turn in the opposite direction than you would if you were going to Lake Wenatchee. It's only a mile or two long but you will find yourself on the Winton Road where the lost community of Winton once thrived. Spend a few moments in history and take the drive.

 

There was an all-class Winton School reunion in 1994, which was well attended and produced many good stories.

 In the hearts of staff, students and parents, Winton will always be fondly remembered as a treasure that very few have ever had the priveledge to be a part of. The memory of Winton lives on.

 

 

Historic Winton Schoolhouse
Pictured above is the Winton Schoolhouse in it's current location next to Beaver Valley Elementary School in Plain, WA. It was moved from Winton shortly after it's closure as a historic preservation project. Photo taken July 2017

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